Publishing scripts

I was so proud of our project that I wanted, our names. I wanted to be credited. This was us! Like this was the youth that did this.

— Performer-advocate, Choose Your Destination. 

In conventional theatre contexts, plays are most often written by a playwright and performed by professional actors. In situations where a play’s script is collectively created, the performance collective is often given authorship of the published script. But since TSDC is a performance-based research project that works with marginalized populations, we had an ethical mandate to protect participants’ privacy. This means that we never share images or the names of a play’s performer-advocates unless we are given informed consent to do so, and for a specific purpose.

For the most part, authorship of TSDC plays wasn’t an issue because at performances the performer-advocates were acknowledged and recognized as the play’s creators or authors. But if we were to pass an existing skeleton script onto a new group, the original creators of the play would no longer be visible as its authors. So, the idea of re-performing a play with cast that was not necessarily made up of play’s original creators presented us with new challenges.

During the workshop process some the youth were very protective of their identities and therefore very appreciative of TSDC policies around confidentiality. However, when it came to the performance, many expressed a desire to be able to share photos from the play on social media. Others wanted their names to be included in information associated with the play (performer-advocates from other TSDC plays shared a similar desire).

So, we asked the youth, “Say we were to publish the script; would you want to be associated with that? Would you like to have your name on that?” Of the three youth who were available for post-performance interviews, their responses were unanimously and enthusiastically affirmative:

I would love it! That would mean that we’re getting somewhere.” — Performer-advocate, Choose Your Destination.

“One-hundred percent!” — Performer-advocate, Choose Your Destination.

“I would love that! That would be amazing. You’d have to give me a copy published; I don’t know how publishing really works. But I’d love that! Because that’s just our work — our hard work coming to fruition.” — Performer-advocate, Choose Your Destination.

The youth’s responses prompted us to think more broadly about publishing scripts not only as a way of facilitating re-performances of TSDC plays, but also as way to give back to the play’s performer-creators and our community partners. We became excited about the idea of creating a series of illustrated chapbook-zines that present abbreviated story arcs for each of TSDC’s plays. The beauty of adopting a zine model for publishing play scripts is that they would be easy and cost-effective to reproduce. TSDC could post downloadable documents that performer-advocates and community partners could access and print.

When we first published the workbook in Spring 2021, we filed our wish to create zines under the category — Things we dreamt of doing, and still hope to do some day! Now, thanks to the creative talents of Melanie Skene, TSDC’s set designer and workbook illustrator, and the time-traveling magic of online publishing, as the summer of 2021 comes to a close, we’re thrilled to say that our zine dream has become a reality.

You can find the zines in the chapter, Introducing TSDC’s Four Plays, along with instructions on how to download and transform the single-page images into pocket-sized booklets.



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Transforming Stories, Driving Change Copyright © by Helene Vosters, Catherine Graham, Chris Sinding is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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